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52                                    LIFE   OF
•when in the evening., at nine o'clock,, a third shock
was felt, accompanied by subterranean noisos. Many
persons hastened to Humboldt and Bonplazul, to ask
them if their instruments did not forctol fresh earth-
quakes. This afternoon mtiat have been a grand ono
for Humboldt, if we think of the picture which ho,
with his talent for such natural scones, has drawn of
it. At an incalculable height it thunders miintor-
ruptedly overhead, while the earth shakos; tho poopltv
rush from their houses into the streets., "uttering cries
of terror. And this scene of the destructive powers
of the labouring earth is followed by a splendid sun-
set on an indigo-blue sky, traversed by gold-fringed
clouds and prismatic rays, while deep in tho earth
a threatening noise accompanies a now, violent shock.
Some nights afterwards Humboldt again had tui
opportunity of observing a considerable fall of shoot-
ing stars, similar to that on his journey from Kuropo-
At that time already he presumed a regular recurrence
of this phenomena, and we shall, in, a later portion of
this biography, show how, in consequence of Mum-
boldt's communications, these meteoric appearances
have been scientifically explained.
On the 18th November, Hjumboldt and his compa-
nion left Cumana on a coasting trip to Guayra, arid
with the intention of staying at Caracas until the ter-
mination, of the rainy season. Their plan was then
to explore the extensive plains of tho Orinocco stream,
to navigate the immense river south of the cataracts,
up the Rio Negro to the boundaries of Brazil, and
then to return to Cumana over Guyana, whoso capital
is called Angostura, or narrow pass. This was a jour-
ney of more than five hundred (German) miles, of
which two-thirds would require to be made in boats.
The country was, moreover, an unknown district*
and no intercourse existed with the missions located
there. Courage and perseverance, aroused by zeal for
science, were their guides, Humboldt did not lot tho
alarming descriptions of the colonists, who pointed
the threatening clangers and ^bstaclas they would